GIRLS PARTICIPATE AT AN ARP CEREMONY
The Maasai Community comprises of the following cultural groupings;
An elder is recognized as a leader in a homestead and bears the responsibility of taking charge of family issues and providing family with basic needs. A homestead constitutes one or more wives with children. As family head, he is in charge of all property of the home. The role of an elder in the community is to offer advice, sit and participate in the village disciplinary meetings and make decisions that affect the society.
The woman is the caretaker of the home and family members. Her role is mainly to bring up children, and does the entire house hold chores such as collecting firewood, fetching water and observing cleanliness. Their role is so domesticated that they actually do construct their own houses. The women are farmers but do not have any right in determining the use of the land. They do oversee the grazing of the livestock but have no say on deciding how to economically dispose off the livestock. However, they are allowed to sell farm produce and milk. Women must all have undergone Female Genital Mutilation, FGM, usually at ages of six to fifteen years of age.
Morans are the warriors of the society in that they protect the community from attacks by other communities particularly during tribal clashes and also defend their own clan during inter clan wars. They also provide labour in times of community development activities such as building roads, constructing water source points and dams. They are also involved in the notorious abduction of women in cases of forced marriages.
- Youth (Tweens and Teenagers)
There is high school drop out rate amongst the youth. Some of boys drop out of school to join the moranism which takes three to five years in the forest and consequently assume life of a moran. Besides schooling the youth are assigned the role of supporting their parents. Mostly the boys tend the livestock, cattle, sheep and goats while the girls busy themselves with household chores which include collecting firewood and fetch water.
The youth are not allowed to air their views in public gatherings. There is no direct communication between the parents and the children. The girls are initiated and married off without much know how about life and problem solving.
- Community Mobilisation was an ongoing activity which involved making home visits, maintain contacts with stakeholders and community members. Three hundred and twelve homesteads were visited with the purpose to promote the project mission.
- ALTERNATIVE TITE OF PASSAGE (ARP)
An alternative rites of passage ceremony was conducted in December for thirty eight girls so as to provide them with social support and empower them with information concerning harmfulness of FGM, personal care and. society norms at Olorkuti Development Hall.
The ceremony involved a 3 days training of facts about FGM and other traditional rites and their harmfulness to the society. The training incorporated the useful messages like those given to the girls who are circumcised in a traditional ritual, during the isolation period, after they are circumcised such as assuming adult roles, prevention of pregnancies before marriage and upholding family stability. The big difference between the two is that in one the importance of education is emphasised and more so the girls do not go through the cut.
Main topics were as follows:
- Human growth and development
- Harmfulness of FGM
- Reproductive Health, Good grooming and Personal Hygiene
- HIV and AIDS
- Drug Abuse
- Sex Education and Harassment
- Group Counselling session
The end of the ceremony was marked by a colourful graduation party held in honour of the girls. It was in recognition of the fact that the girls were more informed about the society and what was expected from them. Their parents witnessed the graduation ceremony. Upon graduation each girl was issued with a certificate and a gift to signify that she had passed from childhood to adulthood without the cut.
- EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM
January marked the recruitment of new girls into the scholarship program and the payment of School fees for the 18 girls from deprived families and at risk of forceful FGM. The beneficiaries were from 4 primary and 3 secondary schools. This number of girls was selected subject to the availability of funding for the program.
- COMMUNITY CAPACITY BUILDING
A session on FGM and its harmfulness was conducted for the youth at Poroko Secondary School. It was realised that FGM topic was not openly discussed even though it was taking place right under their noses, in their homesteads. 137 youth were reached with this Anti FGM Campaign which received mixed reactions with some young men openly declaring that they will still marry girls who have been through FGM practice. Fifty four community members were also trained on FGM and HIV/AIDS at Olorkuti Development Hall in February 2013.
COMMITTEE OF WOMEN COMMUNITY MOBILISERS